Reviews of Teen Books

The Future of Another Timeline
Newitz, Annalee
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Tess is a time traveling member of the Daughters of Harriet, a group that does it's best to make their present time, 2022, a safe place for women, whether cis or trans. There's a men's right's activist group from further in the future trying to undermine their efforts by erasing the Daughters of Harriet and women's rights folks from the timeline. Meanwhile, in 1992, teenager Beth, a friend from Tess' past, finds herself in a bit of a pickle. She and her friends kill a boy who was in the process of sexually assaulting their friend. This starts the girls down a murderous path that Tess will do her best to stop.

For the most part, I enjoyed this book. I usually enjoy time travel, unless its being used as a cheap plot device which was definitely not the case here. Newitz did a lot of homework for this one - the historical notes at the end were really interesting and trips to the past often include historical figures. The story alternates between Tess and Beth with a few other perspectives thrown in on occasion. Tess mainly splits her time between the late 1800s (easily my favorite parts), the early 1990s and her present in 2022, while Beth's story is firmly situated in 1992. While I enjoyed both stories, I never really felt compelled to read the book. Both perspectives were interesting, but not captivating or thought-provoking (though I suspect the book will provide plenty of thinking material for some readers). As a result, certain plot points felt unnecessary and the book felt overlong. I really hated the way Tess' story ended. Nonetheless, its an enjoyable read that makes a great point (women are people too, who knew?) that I would recommend to science fiction readers that are interested in women, women's and LGBT rights. There's also quite a bit of 90's punk rock that readers of a certain age will love. The ending is also quite optimistic, which I wasn't expecting, but did welcome.

TLDR: The Future of Another Timeline is interesting book full of time travel shenanigans that is plagued by the same issues that all time travel book face. Ultimately, while the book was fun, feminist and full of salient social commentary, it wasn't compelling.

3 stars - I liked it.

Thanks to Netgalley and Tor for the advance copy which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Future of Another Timeline will be available for purchase on 24 September, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Review: Tiger Queen
Sullivan, Annie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

When I saw that there was a retelling of Frank Stockton’s “The Lady or the Tiger”, I got excited. I remember reading and loving that story in school, but I wondered how such a short tale could be retold. Stockton’s story serves more as a jumping off point (never fear, though – the choice between lady and tiger is made and we get to see the fallout). We open the book in the arena of drying up desert kingdom where “supplies or tiger” is used as a common way of determining justice or punishment, but of course, our king cheats to ensure justice is actually served. As resources get lower and the proletariat gets more uprisey, its up to our main character, Princess Kateri, to save the kingdom.

The plot in this is fairly standard. If you are a regular reader of YA fantasy, you’ll know where the book is headed a few chapters in. The characters themselves are nothing special, although the author transforms Kateri in a believable way. You’ll hate her at the start and root for her at the end. I wish the Desert Boys had been Desert People – why no girls? Since Kateri is such a strong hero, I thought the complete and almost total lack of lady fighters was suspect. I also wanted more tigers (if you don’t like to read about animal cruelty, maybe skip this one). It’s based on a story called “The Lady or the Tiger” – give me ladies and tigers!

There’s clearly a lot not to like, but the some of the worldbuilding was spectacular. Sullivan builds a desert world complete with lethal creatures (watch out for those sand snakes!), interesting cuisine (make sure you eat the right lizard tongue) and well, ok, I mostly liked the animals she invented. I wasn’t compelled to read the book, as, like I said its pretty obvious as to where it was going, but the worldbuilding was enough to keep me at least somewhat engaged and the author gets points for writing a standalone. I can easily see this book being dragged out to a duology and I’m glad everyone involved resisted that temptation.

TLDR: The book had potential for days, but I found the execution to be a bit lacking. Fun worldbuilding details make what is otherwise a rather routine YA fantasy more interesting. 2.5 stars rounded up to 3.

Thanks to Blink and Netgalley for the eARC, which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. The Tiger Queen will be released on 10 September, but you can put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Detective Cross
Patterson, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Packed with action and intensity, Detective Cross is a mystery-action that will have you on the edge of your seat for the entire duration of the book.
The plot starts with a bomber planting bombs in national parks. Police search and defuse the bombs, only for more to be planted the next day. The serial bomber keeps on planting more and more, with the authorities always a step behind. I would highly recommend this book, as it had me on edge the whole time, with its accurate details and action packed plot. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Great Gatsby is truly a masterpiece. The Great Gatsby tells the story of Nick and his mysterious neighbor Gatsby. Gatsby is very wealthy and throws grand parties, yet has a mysterious and possibly immoral past.
Fitzgerald is a master of imagery, character development, and mystery. Set during the Jazz Age, The Great Gatsby is a fascinating commentary on life in America. I understand why The Great Gatsby is a classic and many students are required to read it. The Great Gatsby is a wonderful book that any reader from high school to adults can enjoy and learn something from.

Reviewer's Name: John B
Awards:
The Way of Kings
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The highlight of The Way of Kings is assuredly the masterful world building. Sanderson manages to craft a fantastical and believable world with unique quirks and mountains of lore. With an exciting narrative to boot, this book (over a thousand pages long) tends to threaten other menial activities such as sleep. Though occasionally losing momentum through its frequent shift of character viewpoints, The Way of Kings is definitely a worthwhile read with compelling characters and gripping action.

Reviewer's Name: Evan T
Genres:
Under a Painted Sky
Lee, Stacey
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Under a Painted Sky is a fictional western story set in 1849 on the Oregon Trail. It is about two girls named Samantha and Annamae who after some unfortunate luck leave their home, Missouri, behind to start a new life, but they must first survive the Oregon Trail. While traveling along the Oregon Trail, Samantha and Annamae disguise themselves as boys to avoid unwanted attention and they join a group of cowboys, but will Samantha and Annamae be able to trust them? Under a Painted Sky is a story about friendship and self-discovery that leaves you wanting to read more. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Under a Painted Sky because Stacy Lee developed the characters very well and I would recommend reading it.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Emma G
Book Review: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe
Lewis, C.S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I listened to this on CD. The narrator was fantastic. The book was also fantastic. Well written, aimed at younger readers, but still enjoyable by adults. There's a reason why this book is a classic. The story had me thinking about bravery and forgiveness, but the Edmund story line was a bit frustrating. His siblings were kinder than I would've been, although I have to remember that he was just a child. All in all, a must-read, or listen.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Hunters
Flanagan, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Hunters is a brilliant book written by John Flanagan. Hal and his Brotherband chase down Zavac through rough waters. The Herons know that Zavac is cornered, but beating him is going to be tricky. You have to read the rest to know what happens!

This book is packed with action and excitement. Another aspect that I love about this book is Hal’s courage. He shows massive amounts of courage through the story which makes his crew more faithful in him than ever. I would rate The Hunters 5 out of 5 stars. It was so good that I could not put it down. If you are interested in this book, I would recommend reading the whole series.

Reviewer's Name: Hayden S
Awards:
Chomp
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Chomp is a book written by Carl Hiaasen. I would rate Chomp five out of five stars. In Chomp, Wahoo’s mom is on a trip working in China. The main character, Wahoo, and his dad, Mickey, get hired for a TV job. Their family is tight on money, and they are trying to pay off the mortgage of their house. While Wahoo’s mom is in China, he and his dad go on a rollercoaster of exciting events working for the show. It has a very exciting plot and swallowed me into the book. It is a funny tale about the love for animals. I enjoyed the character’s humor and how Wahoo reacted to tough problems. I loved this book and would recommend it to others. It is in a series, but it is a standalone book. I would recommend reading all of the other books in this fantastic series. The author is an amazing writer. That is why I would recommend Chomp to you.

Reviewer's Name: Hayden S
Venomous
Wilcox, Christie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Explore the effects of many venoms and venomous animals from across the world and their interactions with humans from the stunningly potent bullet ant to the awesomely efficient komodo dragon in this nonfiction exploration of various creatures' venoms. The author does a commendable job of portraying dangerously venomous animals in ways to give them well earned respect andf fear, rather than just fear mongering. The book follows some of the author's experiences and the experiences of others to accurately show how the animals behave and how their venoms act in a personable method. The author also describes how the different venoms work in a scientific approach with her personal experiences with stings, providing multiple perspectives on the effects of certain venoms. Overall, I enjoyed how the author provided multiple perspectives of different animals and how she showed how dangerous some animals are while instilling respect for said animals. I would recommend this to anyone who has attended college level biology courses who want to study the venoms of certain animals due to the use of more advanced terminology.

Reviewer's Name: Gabriel P
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Rovelli, Carlo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is an informative and very useful guide to several aspects of physics, ranging from relativity to the various theories surrounding the very fabric of our universe. Anyone reading this should, however, have some background information to basic physics as this book covers some basics surrounding more complex concepts of physics such as quanta and time. The author simplifies the concepts down and organizes them into seven lessons that become progressively more complex or confusing so I would suggest any potential readers to not skip around the book. I rather enjoy the progression of the book and how the author made the complex theories understandable to the average person who is interested in the more confusing concepts of physics. I would recomend this to anyone who wants to understand more about physics and get an small taste of the most complex ideas of physics.

Reviewer's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Gabriel P
If I'm Being Honest
Wibberley, Emily Siegemund-Broka, Austin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I picked this book up from the library, not really knowing what to expect. I ended up falling in love with the book and I finished it up in a day. If I'm Being Honest, cowritten by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka, is a tale about a girl named Cameron who has it all. She's popular, pretty...but most importantly extremely honest to the point where she hurts people. The book begins when Cameron decides she wants to hook up with a boy named Andrew. She and Andrew have been friends for a really long time and for the past year she's realized she wants to step up their relationship a little.
However, when Andrew rejects Cameron because he sees her cruelty up close, Cameron decides she needs to prove to him that she's a good person. Next, Cameron makes a lost of people who she needs to make amends with, one being a boy named Brendan Rosenfeld. Cameron ruined Brendan's social status in sixth grade when she gave him a mean nickname. The more people she makes amends with, however, the more she realizes that she might not be doing it just for Andrew after a while.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P
Our Chemical Hearts
Sutherland, Krystal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I bought the book Our Chemical Hearts a couple years ago, but it remained untouched on my shelf for a long time. This summer, however, when I realized I needed something new to read, I picked it up and wondered why I started it so late. Our Chemical Hearts, by Krystal Sutherland, is a love story with lots of drama and twists and turns. This book will fill you up and break your heart simultaneously. The main character of the book is named Henry Page.
Henry, a highschooler, has been single for pretty much his entire life. He's watched his friends go in and out of relationships, with the trend of every relationship ending in heartbreak. When a mysterious girl with a cane dressed head to toe in boy clothing transfers to Henry's school, he never imagined he'd fall for her. This girl's name is Grace and she has a sketchy past. As he gets to know her more, Henry wonders if they will work out together because she is just so very broken. This book is very beautifully written, deep, authentic, and would be great for fans of books like Eleanor and Park, Holding Up The Universe, or All the Bright Places.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P
Awards:
The Unexpected Everything
Matson, Morgan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Unexpected Everything, by author Morgan Matson, is a novel with an underlying that sometimes life doesn't go as planned, but that's okay; sometimes even the unexpected things are the best and most enjoyable things you ever experience. The main character of the Unexpected Everything is a girl named Andie. Her life has been pretty rough for the past years. With a father who is a congressman, she feels like she has to always put on a sort of "facade" and this is something that seems to be constricting for her.
Andie's mother, whom she loved dearly passed away a few years back from ovarian cancer and, even though it's been quite a while since her death, Andie still hasn't come to terms with this loss. Andie has some plans for this summer. She is going to take a premed course, as she hopes to find a career in medecine in the future. However, when her plans change, Andie is flustered and realizes that her vision of this summer has now fallen apart, and she has no choice but to make new plans. This book is fun, cute, and full of adventures as well as drama. I have now read all of Morgan Matson's books and love them! I'd recommend this novel to anyone who is into romcoms, adventures, or anyone who is looking for a fairly easy read. You won't be able to put this book down!

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P
Inside Out and Back Again
Lai, Thanhha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Inside Out and Back Again is a historical drama all told in poems. A Vietnamese family is forced to flee their home in Saigon, Vietnam due to the outbreak of the Vietnam war. Luckily, they escape and flee to Alabama, however, Ha, the daughter in the family has trouble adjusting to the different lifestyle in the U.S. In, this book, you get a view into the life of Vietnamese refugees and their struggle to adjust to a new life, all in the form of poems. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great story filled to the brim with poems.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
Killer Cocktail
Kiely, Tracy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In this story, Nic and Nigel, who are Hollywood celebrities found some clips from the set of A Winter’s Night. Which is a movie from 2 decades ago known because of the great story and the behind the scenes drama, including the death of a celebrity. But a burglary occurs, convincing the couple that there may be someone on those clips who doesn’t want to be seen. The book is filled with gossip about fictional stars who are always at each other's throats, and a dog who is also in on the fun. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a good mystery.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
Genres:
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Foer, Jonathan Safran
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close follows a nine-year-old boy named Oscar coming to terms with life after his father's death on 9/11. When looking through his dad's things, Oscar breaks a vase and finds a key and a mysterious envelope labeled "Black". He decides to embark on a mission to find every person named Black in New York City in an attempt to find the one Black who knew his father. Along the way, he meets new friends and discovers more about those he already knew. This book is written from the alternating perspectives of Oscar, his grandmother, and his mute grandfather whom Oscar has never met. This adds an interesting layer to the story, as Oscar lost a parent in 9/11 and his grandparents, both children at the time, lost their families in the bombing of Dresden. This shows a theme throughout this book that grief from war and terror is universal. This book's overall commentary on the human experience and grief, both individual and collectively experienced by a nation, shows the skill and thoughtfulness of the author. On a personal level, I did not find the characters particularly enticing and had a hard time following the plot at times, but I would still recommend the book, especially to someone with an interest in 9/11 or the world wars.

Reviewer's Name: McKenna R
The Help
Stockett, Kathryn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Help is a novel set in Jackson, Mississippi during the early 1960's, written by Kathryn Stockett. The main character, Eugenia 'Skeeter' Phelan, is a aspiring journalist who lives with her parents and has no intention of starting a family like all of her friends; what she really wants is to be a writer. She decides to take a big risk and interview the help--the African American women who work in the households of white families to make a living--and write about their experiences. Kathryn Stockett's novel follows the lives of three women: Skeeter and two African American women: Aibileen and Minnie. The Help is spectacularly written and very accurately depicts society during segregation. It will make readers laugh out loud, cry, and connect with the characters. The plot is unpredictable and enjoyable, told through several perspectives which creates the perfect character development.
I strongly recommend this book to all readers who enjoy historical fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H
Genres:
The Odyssey
Homer
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer, and it is a literary classic about two great quests. Ten years after the fall of Troy, Odysseus still hasn't returned home to Ithaca, and his house is plagued with suitors wanting to marry his wife, Penelope. His son, Telemachus, feels overwhelmed but is sure that Odysseus isn't dead. With the help of the goddess Athena, he sets off to search for his father as the reader learns more about Odysseus's previous journey and resulting enslavement. Telemachus encounters many obstacles which shape him and build his confidence by the end of the story.
Although this book is a classic and was probably very popular in ancient Greece, it is not an enjoyable book to read. There is too much unnecessary dialogue, and the plot is excessively long. Due to the old language and lengthy descriptions, reading The Odyssey is a very strenuous task.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Rowling, J.K.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

To all readers wondering what happens after Harry leaves Hogwarts, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child gives an interesting take on the idea. This is a play script, written by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany. It is about Harry's son, Albus--who is sorted into Slytherin--and his best friend, Scorpius Malfoy. In an effort to bring back someone from Harry's past, they travel through time and make some major mistakes--even bringing back the darkness that Harry vanquished. This book is about the bond between friends and family. Although it is creative and definitely makes an effort to continue the Harry Potter legacy, the story seemed forced the plot wasn't enjoyable.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H
Genres:

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